“I have no time!!! I am so overwhelmed!!! I run and run and run and never feel like I ever get caught up around the house!”
These are all too familiar things I hear when I speak with women all around the world. I hear their hearts that long for simplicity and peace. The home which was meant for a haven of healing, rest, and order, has been turned upside down in a sea of chaos. Women are frustrated, tired, and searching for a miracle. Where do they begin? How can they climb this mountain that seems looming far above them?
I have spoken to women who are desperate for order yet they feel that they can never figure out how to achieve it. They stand there with a whole list of reasons it might not be possible and my hearts cry is that it is possible because I believe that all things are possible. If you have already given up and made up your mind that you are not a good housekeeper, you are missing out on a whole life of fun. It won’t happen overnight. It took years of learning these skills for me to really get complete victory. I hear your hearts. I will share some reasons people give to me that they feel they are unable to get victory in the area of housekeeping as well as reasons I understand.
I have heard every possible reason in the book why women CAN’T have a well ordered home…
- Reason #1 “My children are so close together, so little and every where they go they mess everything up. I can’t keep up with it. I am too busy taking care of the baby and the 4 toddlers.” Believe it or NOT, I had 5 children, 5 and under but I always managed to keep the house clean. I mopped my floors nearly every day so the little ones could play on a clean floor. I had my children at the earliest of ages cleaning with me and that was our mommy/child time. We had fun working together, and it really was like play time. We would spend an hour over the floor having fun scattering a bit of rice, since there was not much dirt, sweeping it up like a game. I would say, “Oh, oh, oh, oh, there is another critter escaping us!!!! We have to sweep him in before he gets away!!! There is another one, oh no!!! Yikes! There he goes! Lets get him in the dust pan—QUICK!” We would do this while giggling and making up all kinds of stories of what they were and how they were trying to get away. So fun. They were learning how to sweep properly in the process. You can make a game of all types of cleaning activities. It is productive, they are learning, and you are playing, spending special time together which is way better than setting your child in front of a box of toys to play by themselves, or worse, a tablet or television. My children, by the age of 5 were proficient at cleaning. They fought over the broom and one time I actually gave them cleaning supplies as gifts and they thought that was the best, most fun gift. They are not that excited about cleaning today, but they know how to do it WELL, and they never complain. They just see it as something we just DO, and it is not a problem for me to have them help any time. It is easy, fast, and all done without complaining, CORRECTLY.
What if you are now starting and your children are older and already lazy? Hmmmm. Lets think. Make it hard on them if they do not help. Take stuff away or use the MOM BUCKS. For example, you could say, “You can’t do this FUN activity or use your phone until you do this job of cleaning up a certain room CORRECTLY.” If it is not done right, they don’t get the privilege. It all stops until you get results. Don’t back down. I don’t give options. It is my way or the highway around here. Unless it is a reasonable excuse. If they are sick for example. You have to judge justly.
- Reason #2 “My husband is a slob. He always leaves his clothes all over the floor, makes a mess everywhere he goes. He makes me so mad. I feel like his maid. I work hard all day and I should not have to clean up. You don’t understand, Erin. You are not married to a hoarding slob of a man!” Oh, I do get it. I do. Don’t think I always had it easy with my husband. I had a serious wake up call one day as I read about a wife who also complained about her slob husband. His beard trimmings all over the sink, water splatters on the mirror, boots, shoes, underwear strewn all over the floor, tools on the kitchen counter, leaving the seat up on the toilet, muddy shoes prints all over the fresh mopped floors. Oh yes, been there and done that all. Had the fits, I had the tears. I complained big time over all of these sorts of things. Yet this woman complained and her husband died in a car wreck one day. She felt sorry that she complained. She would give anything to clean up muddy boot prints and beard trimmings. I caught that vision when I was only 25 years old and just decided right then and there, that I will joyfully clean up after my man. It is all in perspective. At least he is here and he works all day making money to provide a good home and puts food on the table. Yeah, I know what you are saying but you need an attitude adjustment, make a choice to overlook the little things and just serve others with a joyful heart. Joy is a choice! I can’t stress that enough. You are not his maid, you are God’s gift to him as his loving helper. Big deal, just pick up after him, it is the least you can do. Don’t let this spoil your fun of serving and being a fun friend/helper to your man.
He should be nicer and think about you, but don’t live for expecting it. Do your part and maybe he will see your good deeds and like my husband noticed, he started to clean up after himself because he did not feel like I should have to be picking up after him. When I started to do it joyfully, something really amazing happened in his heart. I just made the choice to do it even if he never noticed. Or cared. I mean, here, let me tell you about Jesus, he died for us when we were still sinners and haters. Case closed. Jesus is our ultimate example.
- Reason #3 “I have so much pain. I am so tired all the time. Erin, you just don’t know what it is like. I have this backache and my knees don’t work. I can’t clean my house or make meals. It is just too impossible for me. Besides, Erin, I am so depressed. I can’t seem to get over this feeling of discouragement.” Okay. Okay. Okay. I get it. I hear you. I was bedridden for 9 months in the worst pain day and night. Screaming in pain. I always forced myself each day to at least make my bed when I was at my worst. It felt like moving a mountain, but I felt so much better about myself when I could accomplish something, anything, around the house. It gave me value, like I was contributing. 6 more years of barely standing on my two feet because of my pain. But, BUT, I would do all I could. It may have taken me several hours of time to do a 5 minute sweeping job, but I would sit on a rolling office chair with my broom or vacuum and I would roll around and do something! Something! It is rewarding to have a job and to have a purpose in the home. God stamps that need on your heart whether you like it or are aware of it. It is there, in your DNA. It just feels good to accomplish things.
- Reason #4 “I am stretched too far! My kids have sports or music lessons! I have to drive them all over the place, running them here and there for play dates. I have bowling league or a prayer meeting on the other night. I don’t have time to cook because we are never home. The house is a wreck because we don’t have time to fix it. We are just too busy.” Always leaving. Never home. That is a choice. You do not have to do it all. No one is putting a gun to your head and forcing you to live in the car, eat fast food, and be involved in every extra activity. All these things are good things. These are not bad things but they take away from some pretty important family time. You are still chasing around because you signed up for it. You decided that it is important to you and your family to be involved. You can make seasonal decisions to have certain sports or activities and then take breaks. We have soccer right now and it is crazy. 3 nights each week are taken up with running the children to games or practice. We want our children to be able to do these great activities but I will say, that I have to arrange my life to accommodate this activity so that we can still have meals around the table. It is THAT important to me. In fact, they had soccer today, so I made a nice dinner meal for lunch so we could all sit together around the table and fellowship. So important. I just had to readjust.
- Reason #5 “If I had to keep my home clean and in order, I would be a bear. I would be so stressed out and so grumpy all the time. My kids would begin to hate me because I would be yelling at them. Forget about having fun for anyone around here. I am spending time with my kids. I would hate to worry about cleaning. It would totally spoil our fun. Erin, you are nuts. I can’t believe you would actually try to imply that we should have a clean house. My house is perfectly happy with the mess. I accept my life as it is. We are content to have a dirty home.” I ask, “Do you have time to check facebook? Or how about that show you like to watch. Time for that? Or surfing the internet? Got time for that?” You might have time for that, but not time for cleaning. When you are looking at your phone or computer, you are not spending time with your children anyhow. Use some of that time for cleaning. Just 30 min a day would help. Maybe, just maybe, you could clean with your children. It would cover time with the children and cleaning or cooking together. Win win. And it is fun. The choice is yours. Anything is fun if you have a plan and you decide to make it fun!
- Reason #6 “I was never taught. My mom worked full time. I had a single parent home. I am a single parent and I am working full time.” My mother worked full time, too. She would make a meal each day so when I came home from school there was already a plate made for me. I did not get to learn how to cook this way. I blame myself because I could have asked to be more involved, yet when I married, I decided to learn anyway. I took lessons from my grandmother and later from the Amish. I finished college to be an Art teacher. I could see that my culinary skills needed improvement, why not take a class from an expert. Hands on learning. If you want to learn a skill, find someone you know who is really skilled in homemaking, cooking, or cleaning, and ask them for advice, or learn from them some way. Most women will jump at an opportunity to share what they know. If you work full time, you may need to wake a bit earlier or make some kind of sacrifice of other things to fit in some cleaning or cooking time. Maybe you just invest in a crock pot. It takes about 5 minutes to throw some meat, potatoes, and veggies in there and when you set it, it will do the cooking for you while you are working. When you get home you will have a meal for the family waiting for you. Quit running to the fast food, you will wait more than 5 minutes in your car for that food. You will save time and money this way and it is simple really. It is way healthier as well and you can have a stress free meal around the table if you plan ahead like this. When the children come home from school, you can gather around the table for a meal, start a team clean up after dinner, and you have that special time together in fellowship as well as team work.
The million dollar question of the day is, “HOW can we keep our homes in order and clean, and have meals around the table when it seems impossible to fit it all in our busy schedule?”
The answer is a four letter word called TIME. It is simple. Make Time for everything. Too many people just go about life in a way that seems like they are trying to survive something. The clock actually starts to feel like a tyrant to them. They feel there is not enough to go around or that it keeps running away from them. Sometimes things steal their time. If you can master the art of organizing your time and being in control of your time rather than your time controlling you, you will have peace in your home!
There is freedom in having order in your home. If your home is in a state of continual chaos or mess, you will either ignore the itch of your heart to have everything clean and orderly, because that is actually God given, or you will feel really dreadful inside. If you do not feel that way in your mess, you are in denial. Sorry for being blunt. I remember the feeling I felt. I was a young mother and I had so many things in disorder. I had a sense to have it look pretty clean on the surface, so if a guest would come by, it was at least freshly vacuumed, mopped, dusted, and picked up. I had the sense enough to keep my dishes clean, but if you would look into the refrigerator it was really a disaster zone, or any one of my cupboards. Just open one of them up and you will get hit by the things falling out of it. If I was looking for a particular item, I had to give up quickly because it was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Impossible. You can master the clean part but order is another ball game.
I literally had to face the fact that I was living a double life. On one side, my home looked clean on the surface, but I knew the mess was behind every door and in every closet and under each bed. It was chaos to my heart. I felt the pressure and I had a longing in my heart to grow, learn, and be transformed into the glorious image of Jesus. Christ is not the image of chaos or mess. He is the image of peace, joy, healing, and grace. Our homes and our hearts ought to reflect that same essence. When you have a clean and orderly home, it feels great. Trust me.
I just choose to make time for everything. And I am busy, yet I have a lot of free time. I enjoy my life so much, it feels so peaceful, so un-stressful, so beautiful, freeing, and fun! My schedule looks a little like this each day.
- 4 am I wake at this time if I want to write a blog post because it takes a lot of concentration and time. If I do not have a post to write, I sleep until 6 am.
- 6:30 am I shower, get dressed in my nicest clothing. When I look nice, I feel amazing. I would never be found in pajamas all morning or unkempt. God sees fit to make our earth beautiful, decorating it with beautiful sunsets, roses, and pretty streams, why not put some effort in trying to look nice. Too many people just let theirselves go. They stop caring about how they look and it translates into how they feel. If you look frumpy, you might feel dumpy and that is no way to start your day!
- 7 am I start making a nice breakfast and wake my family. While I am cooking I have a sink of hot sudsy water waiting for each dirty dish I make with food prep. I set the table with dishes and call the family to the table. We all gather around and take our places. My husband says a prayer. We all begin eating, sharing things on our hearts or funny stories from the night before. This TIME of fellowship is so precious and needed. We end with a bible reading from The Daily Light and follow with prayer. Each of us takes our turn to thank God for all our blessings and then we encourage praying for others needs.
- 8 am Chore time. This process takes about 30 minutes when we all work together. I assign the same jobs for each person so they can become skilled at that job and do it efficiently with their allotted time. One of the children has the family bathroom duty, they freshen the sink, mirror, sweep the floor, swish the toilet clean, replace the hand towel with a clean one, empty trash, make sure there is a full roll of toilet paper, etc. That is a 10 min or less job. The same child also vacuums the hallway and rooms that have carpets. All in 30 min. The next child has sweeping and mopping. A 10-15 min job. They also take care of garbage, straighten the living room, entry way, set shoes right, hang fallen coats, and dust the living room. All in 30 min. My daughters are in charge of the kitchen completely. They take turns after meals. Dishes are washed, dried, put away, counter tops wiped, food is put away, and the table is wiped down. I am straightening my room during this time, making my bed, freshening my bathroom, and starting a load of towels from the kitchen and bathrooms.
- 8:30 am by this time, the house is in order, it is perfectly clean and we can either start school immediately or we can do a little quiet time with God. I am boiling water for tea at this time, brushing my teeth, fixing my hair after it is all dry, making sure I look presentable for teaching my children.
- 9 am this is the official time we start the schooling around here. I sit at the dining room table with my tea and call the children to gather around with their books. We spend the next 3 hours in the intense learning.
- 12 pm We all branch off to make our own lunch. I always taught my children to learn to make their own sandwiches, salads, or soups so they could easily fix a meal. They have to fend for themselves, yet we eat together around the table and it is fun to see what everyone came up with. Things can get pretty creative. Sometimes one child sees what the others one is making and they decide to copy them if it looks so delicious. After they finish eating, they are responsible to wash their own dishes and sweep the floor or wipe up their spot. They put all their ingredients away and the kitchen is restored to its perfect order again.
- 12:30 pm What do we do now? The house is clean and orderly. The school is complete. Wow. The day is FREE until 5 pm for dinner prep. We can do all kinds of fun things together. We can help others in that time, do yard work or garden work if it is in season. We can sing or play instruments. We can read a book, go on a hike, go swimming if it is summer. So much fun to be had.
- 5 pm Dinner prep. While I cook, I wash the dishes I create, dry and put them away. By the time dinner is ready, the table is set with the most beautiful dishes I own, making it so welcoming for my family. I always tell them I just cooked this meal with all the love of my heart to bless each one of them. They all look at me with a smile, so thankful, and I know they are happy, peaceful, and content with life.
- 6 pm Quick dinner clean up, floors swept, everything set in place for the next morning. The rest of the evening is FREE time to spend with family or friends in fellowship. Sometimes the children have sports. They also, since they are teenagers, they invite friends over to play card games, watch movies, or play sports outside.
When you make TIME for everything, life frees up. You feel like you have all the time in the world. When your home is in order, it just feels more peaceful and freeing. I hope this releases some of you who feel trapped. Maybe it will give you some other ideas that you could try to make more TIME for your LIFE.
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven”
Please take the time to comment or share if this post was useful to you. It means so much to me to hear from your heart! I pray this is a blessing today!
Love to you all,